Arrow Lian Yu review S5 Ep. 23

Well that was (literally) an explosive season finale. With the crazy and highly unexpected finale, Lian Yu seals the deal on making this Arrow’s best season.

Lian Yu was packed with some incredible action, but it was paced well to slow burn to its stellar second half. I really liked the departure from the norm by having an Arrow finale in daylight. The change in scenery was a nice touch.

The Arrow writers have clearly been influenced by Batman, but I’m curious if they read Tom King’s I Am Suicide arc. This episode started in a similar fashion with Oliver bracing for the battle on Lian Yu with his own Suicide Squad. And with a group consisting of Nyssa, Merlyn, Slade and Captain Boomerang, I like Oliver’s odds.


But Adrian Chase didn’t run Oliver ragged all season by not anticipating any and every move. He’d already secured Boomerang’s services in a sensible betrayal. I did wish the episode had more of Evelyn. Her blind devotion to Chase and complete hatred for Oliver has made her a strong villain sidekick.

Arrow Lian Yu - Thea, Felicity, Curtis, Deathstroke and Samantha

I could have done without Felicity and Oliver’s baby mama discussing their relationship. We get it. The writers and all the Olicity fans want this corrosive relationship back. No need to slowly build to it. I’m just glad Billy’s not around to see this happen unlike poor Ray.

It was time to wind down the island era flashbacks, but first Oliver had to deal with Konstantin Kovar. The time element of fighting off Kovar’s men in time to get rescued gave these sequences a greater sense of urgency. And Kovar did his best to contribute to the Oliver Queen scar fund. But the best moment and perfect conclusion to the flashbacks was Oliver’s conversation with his mother. Susanna Thompson was a great performer on Arrow when the show was still finding its way. This was a nice way to say goodbye to Lian Yu knowing the craziness in store with Moira in Season 1.

Oliver isn’t a fan of strength in numbers and had Merlyn take Curtis, Felicity, Thea and Samantha off the island. It was a decent plan until Thea stepped on a land mine and Merlyn presumably sacrificed himself to save her. I’m not entirely convinced Malcolm is dead. He’s a ninja, not like Talia’s weak sauce League of Assassin flunkies, but a real legit one.

Arrow Lian Yu - Rene, Diggle, Nyssa and Oliver

But a break from Merlyn’s random pop-ups wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Maybe he’ll resurface in Season 7? Either way, this was a strong scene from John Barrowman and Willa Holland. Their characters have endured a lot in five seasons and if this was their final interaction, it was a great moment.

The final action sequence was amazing. Slade and Nyssa tore through the League of Assassins while Team Arrow continued their improbable high success rate battling ninjas. The Dinah/Black Siren face off delivered and wholly fitting for Quentin to knock Black Siren out. But the main event of Oliver vs. Adrian was as much a psychological battle as it was a physical one.

Kudos to the stunt team for some fantastic work on that boat chase. That was impressive. As Oliver figured, Adrian was lying about killing William. But his reasons for wanting Oliver to kill him were far more sinister. Adrian wired the island to blow the moment he died. So if Oliver proved him right by killing him, Adrian was going to kill Oliver and all of his friends.

So he did the next best thing. In a callback to Oliver’s helpless moment in the series’ first episode, Adrian shoots himself. And Lian Yu goes boom.

Typically, I’m not a fan of killing off great villains, but Lian Yu had to conclude with Adrian’s death. He was too superior a villain to leave the possibility of a future return.  It was best for him to go out on a major high and ‘beating’ Oliver. And a huge round of applause to Josh Segarra.

Initially, he came off like a tightly wound vigilante gunning down criminals in the guise of the District Attorney. But with the Prometheus reveal, he became the best villain in the series. Segarra’s intensity helped Stephen Amell reach another level. He’d been really good all year, but Amell reached new heights with his raw emotion on display here.

Arrow Lian Yu - Deathstroke and Green Arrow

As for that cliffhanger ending? Way more suspenseful than The Flash’s finale. We know The Flash can’t go for too long without The Flash. But blowing up the island with the entire supporting cast on it? That’s ballsy and unpredictable enough that there’s no guarantee everyone survived.

Lian Yu set the new high mark for the series while leaving me anxiously awaiting its fall return.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Photo Credit: The CW

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